Six months have passed since the dastardly attack on Mumbai by ten terrorists from Pakistan that killed over 170 people and sent shockwaves across the world.
The National Security Guards, which fought valiantly to rescue the hostages held by the terrorists during the three-day terror siege, lost two of its valiant men during the operation -- Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and hawaldar Gajendra Singh
While the rest of India remembers the 26/11 victims and martyrs today, for Major Unnikrishnan's parents life will never be the same again.
"Not a single day passes when we don't think about him," says K Unnikrishnan, father of Major Unnikrishnan.
He added on an emotional note, "Just this morning, I heard my wife crying. When I went up to her, I saw her holding a comb in her hand. That was my son's comb and his hair was stuck on it. We don't want to clean that comb since that hair is the only physical remnant we have of him. His thoughts never leave us, even for a single second. Everyday we go through Sandeep's belongings. We will preserve everything. We have formed a trust in his name and hope that it will help a lot of people."
Major Unnikrishnan died like a hero, while he was trying to save some of his colleagues from the terrorists' bullets, during the operation in the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Speaking about coming to terms with the loss of their only son, K Unnikrishnan says, "The last six months have been tough on us. Life crawls and there is not a single day when we don't think of our brave son. Nothing much has really changed in the last six months. If you ask me whether the country has become any safer, then I really don't know. There is a stable government at the Centre and I feel that a sense of security comes with stability. So let us hope for the best."
But he is proud of his son, who laid down his life for the country. "I feel so proud of Sandeep. The other day, we met his first chief executive officer in the 16th Bihar Regiment. I was beaming with pride when he told me that from day one itself, he knew that my son had potential," recalls K Unnikrishnan.
And he has decided to pay tribute to his son's life in a unique way. "My wife and I are traveling to a lot of places. We will visit every place where my son has served. It is a tribute to my brave son," he added.
On a more assertive note, K Unnikrishnan said, "It is a must that people join the armed forces, because our country needs it. Just because I lost my son, I would not discourage anyone from joining the armed forces. If it had not been my son, then it would have been someone else's son. In June, I am traveling to the National Defence Academy, where I will felicitate some of the new recruits."
Speaking on the unpleasant run-in with Kerala Chief Minister V Achutanandan, who had famously said that even a dog wouldn't have visited the Unnikrishnans' residence had it not been for his martyr son, the grieving father says that he has put those incidents behind him.
"The incident with the Kerala chief minister was an unpleasant one and it had occurred due to some misunderstanding. I am an apolitical man and I don't want to indulge in any sort of politics," he clarified.
But he struggled to complete the rest of his statement. "I have only nationalism and patriotism within me and you know what; Sandeep is the one who has instilled these feelings of nationalism and patriotism within me," he said tearfully.